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Honest Ricky listening to his body talk

Jennifer Phelan  March 26, 2013 7:00 AM

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Ricky Petterd on the track for the Tigers

LEARNING how to be honest with himself has been a key factor in Ricky Petterd overcoming a pesky Achilles injury and being elevated to Richmond's senior list.

The 24-year-old has spent the summer building his fitness at his new home of Punt Road following surgery on his left Achilles in August last year.

He's played four NAB Cup games and impressed in a role off half-back, and is now in contention for Thursday night's clash with Carlton at the MCG.

None of this would have happened had he not started to listen to his body more often – something he didn't do in his six seasons at Melbourne.

How will the Tigers fare in 2013?

"If I pulled up sore, I wouldn't have said anything at Melbourne and just continued to train until it was too late," Petterd told AFL.com.au after his promotion from rookie status.

"It's something I've promised myself I won't let happen again, just to make sure I'm on top of [the Achilles] and the physios know exactly where I'm at.

"They've really looked after me. I'm not saying Melbourne didn't, they looked after me well, but I probably wasn't honest with them about how I was feeling.

"The fitness staff have known where I've been and where they want to get me to."

It's this newfound honesty, combined with elevated-heeled footwear and a two-year ban on wearing rubber thongs that has helped Petterd overcome issues with both Achilles.

They plagued him for 22 months before the right one improved, leaving him requiring surgery on just the left side after his last game for Melbourne in round 17 last season.  

"There was a little bit of running mechanics about it," he said.

"The shoes and boots I was wearing, I didn't know anything else but it was probably a lot to do with that so I changed and it seemed to help.

"I've got orthotics and my heel raises are pretty big. I don't have to wear them as big as I did anymore because my Achilles is really good and I don't have any issues.

"I'm always wearing shoes that are high heeled or very supportive shoes. That's something I had to look into; how my feet work and what's good for them."

The running-defender role Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has given Petterd is a throwback to the position he played under Neale Daniher in his first season at Melbourne.

Petterd believes a case can be mounted to say it's where he played his best football at AFL level.

"It's something I think needed to happen for me because I was going a bit stale up forward at Melbourne and I was crying out to play a new position," he said.

"I really took that on board as a challenge and I just worked my arse off to impress them and do what I can and earn the respect of the other players in the backline.

"It's a bit of a different role to what I have played and I just really look forward to hopefully putting it out there in the home and away season."

That could be as early as Thursday night, following the promotion of Petterd and former Geelong ruckman Orren Stephenson to the senior list under the nominated rookie rule.

Hardwick rang Petterd last Monday night ahead of Tuesday's 2pm deadline to tell him the good news; news the former Demon said had come earlier than he expected.

"He just said, 'Well done, we're going to upgrade you and 'O'', and I was really happy for 'O' as well because he's been training really hard and hasn't put a foot wrong so it was great for him," he said

"It's really good for confidence. Since I've been at Richmond I haven't missed a beat with training, I haven't had any niggles and I haven't missed a session.

"I haven't done that since probably 2007.

"I've been around the caper long enough to know that doesn't guarantee good football but it guarantees your chance to compete and I look forward to doing that."

Ricky Petterd is a forward in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 47.25 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.

Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.